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2017 4th Annual Tree Diversity Conference


To protect our urban forests, which are threatened by pests and pathogens, a greater variety of tree species is necessary.


For our fourth annual conference we will continue to explore the relationships between landscape design, horticultural practices and the use of a greater variety of tree species.


Between them, our speakers this year boast an extravagant depth of experience ranging from worldwide plant exploration to landscape and garden design, promotion of new plant materials, administration of some of our country's most noted horticultural conferences and institutions and hands-on experience with plant testing and data collection.



$75, includes all programming and lunch




Jeff Iles | "The Iowa Experience"

Jeff, with his many years as a key figure in the widely-attended Iowa Shade Tree Short Course--now in its 61st year!--will draw on his experience to give us his best ideas for underutilized tree species for planting in our region. He will also devote a major portion of his talk to recommending pruning practices for maximizing the longevity of all those new trees we've been planting and will keep planting in the future.

Jeff serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University (Ames, IA). He teaches, conducts applied research, and provides Extension programming in the areas of landscape plant establishment and maintenance, woody plant evaluation, and nursery and garden center management. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in horticulture from Michigan State, Penn State, and Iowa State, respectively. Between degrees, Jeff worked in the retail garden center segment of the green industry, first in suburban Detroit, Michigan, and later in Littleton, Colorado.

Jeff is a member of the Rotary Club of Ames and serves on the Board of Directors of the Ames Foundation, Iowa Arboretum, Brenton Arboretum, and in his spare time is an ice hockey referee and an avid cyclist.


Justin Evertson | “Trees For the Central Great Plains”

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum has been working to expand the diversity and resiliency of community forests and planted landscapes across the state for nearly 40 years. This program will highlight some of the unique efforts of NSA including the network of over 100 affiliate sites scattered across the state, as well as the Environmentally Adapted Trees Initiative (EAT) developed to identify and propagate superior and environmentally-adapted trees from across the central Great Plains region.

 Justin Evertson has been involved with the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and the Nebraska Forest Service since 1990. Since 2010 he has been Green Infrastructure Coordinator for the Community Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes unit of NFS/NSA. Justin oversees programs that provide funding, technical assistance and educational outreach for sustainable landscape enhancements in communities across the state. Justin has authored several publications over the years with an emphasis on woody plant selection. He earned his architecture and community and regional planning degrees from UNL (1988/92). Justin grew up on a farm in western Nebraska (Kimball County) where he learned an appreciation for shortgrass prairie and Nebraska’s wide-open spaces. Justin is passionate about trees, the native landscape, biodiversity and sustainable landscape development. He lives in Waverly (near Lincoln) where he plants many trees and works to enhance landscapes throughout the community.


Ben Rickenbacker | "A Close Look at Denver's Urban Forest Diversity"

Ben will discuss the city-wide inventory project which was done in part to prepare for the pending arrival of the emerald ash borer. Featured discussion points will include an update on the species composition of Denver's urban forest along with the discovery of some notable trees, some of which are new state champions.

Ben Rickenbacker is a Forestry Operations Supervisor for the City and County of Denver. Ben was initially hired to lead the city-wide street tree inventory project, where he and his team documented roughly 230,000 public right-of-way trees. Ben is an ISA Certified Arborist/Municipal Specialist. Ben holds a B.S. in Horticulture from Western Kentucky University. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the arboriculture industry.


Sean Hogan | "Woody Plants for the High and Dry"

Sean will draw on his wide experience as a plant hunter around the world, a designer of water conservation landscapes and an aficionado of the high, dry and cold eastern Oregon steppe to recommend trees and cultural techniques tailored to conditions in the Front Range region of Colorado.

Sean Hogan is the owner of the renowned Cistus Design Nursery in Sauvie Island, Oregon (near Portland), which besides introducing many new plants to U.S. gardens also provides innovative landscape design services. Sean has a curatorial and collections background at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland and the University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden. He has traveled all over the world to collect plants with potential application in U.S. landscapes and has managed the design of naturalistic landscapes, eco-roof installations and water conservation gardens. One of his major horticultural interests is promoting new, underused and unknown plants for summer-dry climates.


Dr. Rich Olsen | TBD

Director, U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C. Dr. Olsen holds a doctorate in horticultural science from North Carolina State University and joined the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in 2006 as a research geneticist for the urban tree breeding program of the Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit. His research has focused on the development of superior landscape trees with pest and disease resistances combined with non-invasiveness. In 2015 Dr. Olsen was appointed Director of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. He is an international horticultural leader who has shared his scientific expertise and practical knowledge with multiple arboreta, urban forestry groups and professional associations.



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